Atlanta Center for Medical Research

Learn All About Bunions

Atlanta Center for Medical Research Resource Blog

If you often wear uncomfortable shoes, whether for style or for work, you are very familiar with the discomfort from the pinching of a too-tight shoe. A similar sensation to that is a bunion, a bump that forms on the joint of your big toe.

This bump is created when bones move out of place in your foot, causing the joint to stick out and press uncomfortably against your skin. It’s even possible to have something similar form at the base of your pinky toe.

If you’ve ever experienced a bunion before, know you’re not alone. In fact, there are more than three million cases in the United States each year.

Keep reading below to learn more about bunions, including the treatment options.

What are the Symptoms Bunions?

Though a bump at the joint of the bone is a dead giveaway for a bunion, here are a few other symptoms:

  • Pain that ebbs and flows.
  • Swelling and redness around the joint.
  • Calluses or corns.
  • Lack of movement in the big toe
  • Soreness around the joint.

What Causes Bunions?

There are several factors that help bunions form. However, the exact cause is not known. Here are some things that scientists and doctors believe make an impact:

  • Wearing the wrong kind of shoes.
  • Injuries.
  • Deformities that occur at birth.
  • Stress on the feet.
  • Arthritis.
  • Inherited foot type.

To avoid the pain of a bunion, the best thing you can do is to make sure you are wearing the right shoes. Avoid pointy shoes. Instead, reach for ones that give you enough space to fit your entire foot comfortably without squeezing.

What are Non-Surgical Treatment Options for Bunions?

For those who are currently experiencing painful bunions, there are several options for treatment to try to avoid surgery.

  • Lifestyle updates, such as changing shoes, wearing shoe inserts, or using padding where the bunion is.
  • Sometimes, applying ice to the bunion makes a world of a difference.
  • Over-the-counter medications and prescribed medications.

When is Surgery Needed to Treat Bunions?

In severe cases, a bunionectomy (surgery to remove a bunion) may be required. In these instances, non-surgical treatments have not helped heal the bunion. There are a few different options for the surgery to make the outcome successful.

  • Removing the swollen tissue or part of the bone, and straightening the big toe.
  • Joining the bones of the joint.

What Happens After a Bunionectomy?

Each patient’s recovery will vary and a doctor will provide instructions for a patient’s postoperative care. There are some common steps after a bunion removal to help with a successful recovery.

  • R.I.C.E. – A common acronym for most injury recoveries, it stands for Rest – Ice - Compression – Elevation.
  • Wearing a surgical boot, and using crutches or a knee walker the first few weeks after the surgery.
  • Wearing shoes with wide toe boxes and avoiding wearing high heels for a least 6 months after surgery.
  • Physical therapy for rehabilitation and prevention of further injury.
  • Taking pain medications for discomfort.

The Atlanta Center for Medical Research was founded in 1982 by Dr. Robert A. Riesenberg and is now one of the largest and most respected medical research institutions in the country. We are currently running a research program to learn more about the pain medication for bunion removal. If you’re interested in participating in a bunionectomy study, click here to sign up today!

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